We honour front-facing health workers, within and beyond our sector, who care for those who are medically or structurally vulnerable to COVID-19. Many of those workers are themselves marginalized people – racialized, newcomers to Canada, LGBTQ+, and women. This is especially true of Personal Support Workers (PSWs), who are vastly overrepresented in the numbers of health workers falling ill and dying.
PSWs are essential workers in all parts of the health system, but especially in caring for the most vulnerable members of our society. They work in long-term care homes, group homes for people with disabilities, and in the community providing home-care support. Their work is high-touch and intimate. They bathe, dress, toilet, and feed people who are unable to do these things alone. This work is not optional, nor can it be done remotely.
As of May 20, 2020, nine health workers in Ontario have died from the virus. Seven of them were PSWs. At least four of them were racialized. A common thread runs among these stories: insufficient access to personal protective equipment (PPE). As we honour those who have lost their lives to this virus, we call on all levels of government to protect PSWs and other essential, front-facing health workers by prioritizing access to appropriate PPE and training in how to use it.
- Anonymous, 58, Cleaner. Name withheld at request of his family. Worked at Brampton Civic Hospital. Died April 9, 2020.
- Christine Mandegarian, 54, PSW. Worked at Sienna Altamont Care Community, Scarborough. Died April 15, 2020.
- Arlene Reid, 51, PSW. Homecare worker with VON Peel Region. Died April 27, 2020.
- Sharon Roberts, 59, PSW. Worked at Downsview Long Term Care, North York. Died May 1, 2020.
- Leonard Rodriquez, 61, PSW. Worked at Access Apartments at York Square, Toronto. Died May 6, 2020.
- Anonymous, PSW. Name not yet released. Worked at Madonna Care Community, Ottawa. Died May 7, 2020.
- Brian Beattie, 57, RN. Worked at Kensington Village (long-term care home), London. Died May 11, 2020.
- Maria, PSW. Last name not yet released as of May 20. Worked at Sisters of St. Joseph Long Term Care, London. Death announced May 13, 2020.
- Agary Akaekpuchionwa, PSW. Worked at Peter D. Clark Long Term Care Centre, Ottawa. Died May 19, 2020.
We will update the list above as we learn of more deaths. While we hope fervently that no more updates will be needed, we know that this hope is unlikely to be fulfilled. Please help us keep this list updated by emailing communications@allianceON.org with the following information:
- Name of deceased
- Job title
- Place of work
- Date of Death
- Link to obituary (if available)
- Link to news article